Playing Chess Against “King Self”


How could playing chess help cultivate thinking thanks?

A lot actually. Chess is a thinking game. You have to try to protect your king against assaults and instead seek to pin down the opposing king.  Most inexperienced players only look to respond after each move (I may or may not fall into this category), but experienced players realize that victory comes from a planned approach, thinking many moves in advance.

History of Chess

Chess started in India back in the 1500’s.  It spread to Persia and later on with the Moors into Spain and southern Europe.  In the mid-1800’s chess tournaments began.  In 1886, the first World Chess Championship was held.  Online chess games became popular in the 1990’s. Magnus Carlsen

A 2012 survey found that chess players now make up one of the largest communities in the world: 605 million adults play chess regularly.  Chess is played at least once a year by 12% of British people, 15% of Americans, 23% of Germans, 43% of Russians, and 70% of Indian people. Magnus Carlsen (at right) is the reigning world chess champion presently, and I might add that he is a Norwegian.

How do you play chess with ungratefulness?

Playing chess defensively is planning to lose; you must play offensively.  You must evaluate threats, look for clever ways to dodge those threats, and keep on the offensive.  “King Self” is the enemy when it comes to cultivating gratitude. The Self is self-ruling, self-serving, self-exalting, and wants to totally rule our bodies, our minds, our circumstances, and other people around us for its own benefit.

Our selfish desires are powerful and demanding, wanting heaven and utopia for ourselves right now. The standard is absolute perfection – “I want a perfect day, a perfect job, perfect children, a perfect car, a perfect phone, a perfect spouse,” and so on.  King Self does not want to look for things to think thanks about. It spots the imperfections and short-comings right away and responds with grumpy murmuring, complaining, anger, arguments, and even despair. We have to change the way we think in order to defeat King Self.

Let’s imagine that the opposing chess pieces represent key enemies of thankfulness: doubt, laziness, lust, envy, anxiety, and selfishness. We move our pawn to block an obvious fallacy – this isn’t heaven, there is no perfection in this life, and things could be much worse. We move our rook into position by meditating on the fact that our God is a strong tower – the sovereign, wise, trustworthy, and good controller of all things. We slide up the bishop of contentment to threaten the queen of jealousy and envy. The knight jumps into position by choosing to think thanks even when we don’t feel like it.  The queen of power and peace moves across the entire board to take down anxiety.  Finally, the egocentric King Self is held in checkmate.

This chess battle is between your ears.  The battle is won in your thoughts.

chess 2

In Europe and in South Africa we often saw large chess sets in parks.  It is cool to try to play one of those games.  It may be a little difficult to get a good perspective because it is so large, nevertheless, it is inspiring.

As a young girl I learned to play chess.  My Swedish uncle Arne Håkansson was a very good chess player.  My older brother, Jan, is still an excellent chess player and I feel I have really accomplished something if I can beat him. I have played chess online with both my sons-in-law … and right now Justin has me in a precarious situation. Online playing has great flexibility.

“Gratitude is a decision of the will, and if a decision of the will, the choice resides squarely with us. Deciding to be thankful is no easy task. It takes work.” –Chuck Swindoll

I challenge you to a game of th(i)nkful chess.  Plan out your moves in order to win and checkmate the king of Self. It is sweet to win that game, not only for your personal benefit, but most of all, to obey our Maker who said it is His will for us to give thanks in all circumstances (I Thess. 5:18).

Queen of Katwe (2016) is a movie about a true story of a young African girl who learned to play chess at a mission outreach and became an international chess champion.Queen of Katwe

Here’s a link to basic skills in playing chess How to Win a Chess Game





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